Paul Naschy

Paul Naschy reigns supreme as the true king of Spanish horror cinema. He was born Jacinto Molina Alvarez on September 6, 1934, in Madrid, Spain. His father ran a successful fur business. Naschy grew up during the Spanish Civil War, and sought escape from the real-life horrors around him in adventure comics and movie serials; he often cited seeing Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) in a theater at age 11 as a seminal inspirational experience (his later movies would be filled with references to it). A talented athlete, Naschy played soccer for the school team and was a weightlifter who became the lightweight champion of Spain in 1958. Moreover, Paul penned Western pulp novels under the pseudonym Jack Mills and worked as an illustrator who did album cover art for a Spanish record label. Thanks to his muscular build, Naschy was able to break into the motion picture business in the early 1960s as an uncredited extra in such films as “King of the Vikings”–El príncipe encadenado (1960)–and the biblical epic King of Kings (1961).

In 1967 he wrote the script for Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968). He was forced, out of necessity, to play the lead role of tormented werewolf Waldermar Daninsky after Lon Chaney Jr. turned it down. He reprised this character in over a dozen subsequent sequels. Naschy’s portrayals of the anguished and sympathetic werewolf Daninsky became his signature part and consolidated his enduring cult status as a bona-fide horror icon. Other significant horror figures Paul played were the Mummy, Jack the Ripper, Dracula (his performance as the Prince of Darkness in Count Dracula’s Great Love (1973) was one of his personal favorites), the Hunchback, the Frankenstein Monster, the Phantom of the Opera, and even the Devil. Naschy made his directorial debut with Inquisición (1977). The film “Howl of the Devil”–Howl of the Devil (1988)–was one of Paul’s most personal projects and finest artistic achievements.

Naschy had a major heart attack in 1991, but fully recovered and kept soldiering on. He wrote his autobiography, “Memoirs of a Wolfman,” in 1997. His career gained new momentum in the early 21st century. Paul was especially memorable as the vicious title character in School Killer (2001) and had an excellent autobiographical leading role as bitter, washed-up veteran horror actor Pablo Thevenet in Rojo sangre (2004). Naschy was inducted into the Fangoria Hall of Fame in 2000 and was the recipient of the Gold Medal Award in Fine Arts in Spain in 2001. Moreover, he also did interviews and commentaries for DVD releases of his movies. Paul was still acting when he died of pancreatic cancer at age 75 on November 30, 2009, in Madrid, Spain.

Although he’s sadly no longer with us, Naschy’s extremely rich, varied and impressive horror cinema legacy will continue to scare, shock, and delight audiences throughout the world for all eternity.

Related Posts